Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Wise at Heart: Children and Adults Share Words of Wisdom

Wise at Heart: Children and Adults Share Words of Wisdom

Brody Hartman, Richard Steckel, Michele Steckel
, Illustrator:  Richard Steckel , Michele Steckel 
For ages 8 and up
Kids Can Press, 2011   ISBN: 978-1554536306

For a year, the creators of this book travelled around the world gathering words of wisdom from adults and children. They feel that adults “need to gather around the children,” helping them to become “mindful stewards of the world,” and they also think that adults need to listen to what young people have to say, and to learn from them.

The book is divided into three sections. In “Wise Inside,” we look at quotations that explore the idea that inner strength and a healthy “sense of self-worth” is vital for young people. Here we find the words of Desmond Tutu and Jane Yolen. A nine-year-old girl cautions readers not to “Listen to people who don’t believe in you.”

The next section, “Peace Wise,” contains words of wisdom about caring for others. The words of Adam, who is only five, are very touching: “When my friends fall I pick them up.” This plea for compassion is accompanied by thoughts regarding the necessity to turn away from hate, to show respect, and to seek understanding and a “common language.”

The third and final section in the book explores “Nature Wise.” More than ever, young people need to connect with nature, grow to love it, and want to care for it. As Amanda (age 11) and Nick (age 8) tells us, “Earth is out home – it’s the only place we’ve got.” Eric Carle, the children’s book author and illustrator, tells us about how his father helped him to develop “a love of nature.” He learned how important it is to appreciate the beauty of nature and how vital it is to “be kind.”

At the back of the book, the author offer adults tips on how they can use this book to help young people to better understand themselves and to become kinder and more thoughtful people.